Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Forensic Biology At The J. Craig Venter Institute

"We went to JCVI this morning, which is an institution for human genome sequence. We reviewed our knowledge about DNA structure and replication. Also, our instructor, Karla Stucker, introduced Gel Electrophoresis to us, which is a method for separating and analyzing DNA fragments based on their size and charge. This method could significantly help crime investigations by comparing the DNA sample of a specific person or animal to the suspect's DNA using gel electrophoresis. This could allow us to narrow down the range of possible suspects."

"After almost an hour and a half of traveling, we finally arrived at JCVI and met with Mrs. Joslin's sister, who is an instructor and researcher at JCVI. In a meeting room, we were invited to the three white boards to share our knowledge of DNA. Lily and I are in Mrs. MacLeod's biology class and we just finished our unit on DNA a few weeks ago. Therefore, we drew a specific diagram of a DNA molecule structure on the board. Later, the instructor led us through a discussion to review the enzymes and structure of DNA based on what we wrote on the boards. After briefly being introduced to the material, Ms. Karla Stucker explained the lab we were about to do. She then led us on a tour. We saw many young and passionate researchers working hard in their labs, which made us feel excited and got us looking forward to being scientists. The lab room was clean, organized and bright. We were not allowed to touch anything without gloves due to personal protection. After visiting, we have a better understanding of how scientists' workplaces should look like, and their rigorous attitudes towards science."

Learning how to use a pipette.
Practicing how to obtain precise samples.

Great team effort.

  Future Scientists? 

Analyzing our DNA samples.
"Today, we did DNA sequencing. We learned that we can use DNA to find out the genetic makeup of people. We also learned that we can duplicate DNA as much as we want. One thing I took away from the afternoon is that we can manipulate DNA by mutating the DNA code to be whatever we want. To relate this to our study this week,  I learned that DNA can be used to prove people guilty or innocent."

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